“In war, the narrative is much more than just a story. ‘Narrative’ may sound like a fancy literary word, but it is the foundation of all strategy, upon which all else-policy, rhetoric and action-is built.” -Michael Vlahos
In today’s new generation of warfare, the role of narratives cannot be negated. Narratives are developed, evolved and disseminated into the enemy mindsets to create confusion, undermine an opponent’s confidence and control inadvertently leading to create a politico-social conflict and chaos. The narrative is the style and manner in which a story or an argument is told or how a set of incidents, facts or ideas are described. Presenting or rather imposing a coherence and sequencing of an event in a way that it convinces the targeted audience. The aim and purpose are to ideologically brainwash impressionable youth and turn them into unscrupulous perpetrators of violence, willing to unquestioningly follow the commands of terrorist leadership.
Pakistan deep state has been consistently following the policy of building narratives on violent extremism and radicalisation which helps further instigating the terrorist activities. It is a known fact that the groups like Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba(L-e-T) have deep linkages and connect with the global Jihadists groups like the Al-Qaeda. So, the question that needs to be addressed is what are the various factors causing the narrative building of the terrorist groups based in Pakistan?
- The first and foremost narrative comes from the very birth of Pakistan, based on the Two-Nation theory propounded by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. According to this theory in the words of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, ‘Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, and literary traditions. They neither intermarry nor eat together, and indeed they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conception.’ The same Jinnah after achieving his dream of creating Pakistan, in his very first address to the nation speaks about a Secular Pakistan, in his address to the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on Aug 11, 1947, ‘You are free, you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the State … Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State” — the Quaid explicitly spoke of giving equal rights and freedom to the religious minorities of Pakistan. Today this secular narrative is completely wiped out and the former narrative of Two Nation Theory is played time and again.
- Another factor is the belief in the often-cited text of Ghazwa-e-Hind, which mentions of a prophesized war with India or Ghazwa (meaning war)-e- Hind (meaning ‘of India’), purportedly mentioned by the Prophet. This is a “deep” (verified by Islamic Scholars as having weak authenticity). The mentions of war against India (Ghazwa-e-Hind) in a less authentic and single Hadith reference has been used by both Pakistan and global jihadist organisations to legitimize their militant campaigns against India and to radicalize the impressionable and Islamically un-informed Muslims of Pakistan and India.
- Third, is the Kashmir factor. Stephen Tanker in his detailed study at the New American Foundation, argues that L-e-T believes Kashmir is not merely a territorial struggle but rather, they claimed (with no regard for historical record) it was the latest chapter in a Hindu-Muslim struggle that has existed ever since the time of the Prophet Muhammad. Once Kashmir was liberated, it would serve as a base of operations to conquer India and restore Muslim rule to the Indian subcontinent. Pakistan based Jihadi groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed will continue attacking India keeping this narrative in mind.
- Fourth, sustaining and maintaining narratives by the leaders of various terrorist groups through various social media platforms like conferences, rallies, videos and Youtube channels have only strengthened and emboldened the support base of these terrorist organisations, especially the Jamaar-ed-Dawa (JuD) and Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) which continue to operate with impunity. Conferences and banners by terrorist organisations are a regular feature in Pakistan.
Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s (JuD) Central Leader, Convener Tehreek Hurmat-e-Rasool, and Chief Editor of ‘Weekly Jarrar’, Amir Hamza, addressed the “Tahaffuz Hurmat-e-Rasool Conference” (Conference of Protection of the Sanctity of Prophet Muhammad) at Muridke in the Punjab on October 29, 2020, wherein Hamza praised the Chechen teenager that beheaded school teacher Samuel Paty in France on October 16, because Paty showed a cartoon depiction of Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Another example of a terrorist banner(shown below) regarding the “Nida-e-Islam Conference” at Markaz Nida-e-Islam in Islampura in the Punbad, Punjab for November 14, 2020, mentions that the conference will be addressed by Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD)Central Leaders Maulana Manzoor Ahmed and Qari Bin Yamin Abid.
Source: Greek City Times
The irony is that several such banners advertising conferences and talks by the terrorist organisation and their leaders are a regular feature with absolutely no intervention from the deep state, even after the FATF’s grey listing of Pakistan in 2018 and warning in October 2020 to Pakistan for failing to control terror financing and money laundering.
Islamabad attempts to portray itself as dealing with terrorism, attesting to the recent jailing of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba commander Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi for 15 years and the arrest warrants for Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar, but this is nothing but a smokescreen. Both were not charged for terrorist activities, once again demonstrating Pakistan is only cosmetically dealing with terrorism, something that is unlikely to fool FATF. In the recent plenaries, FATF has suggested that Pakistan has made some progress in its action plan but still has some work to do, suggesting that it might not be blacklisted next month. It is more likely that Pakistan continues to remain in the Grey List, hence continuing its saga of unending terrorism and narrative building.
 Michael Vlahos, ‘The Long War: A self-defeating Prophecy,’ Asia Times, 9 September 2006
 Jess Kroll, ‘The difference between a Narrative and a narrative and a story’, Pen and the Pad, March 23, 2017, at http://penandthepad.com/difference-between-narrative-story-10038404
 Ann-Sophi Hemmingsen and Karim Ingrid Castro, ‘The trouble with Counter- Narratives’, Danish Institute for International Studies, https://pure.diis.dk/ws/files/784884/DIIS_RP_2017_1.pdf
 Secunder Kermani, ‘How Jinnah’s ideology shapes Pakistan’s Identity’, BBC News, August 18, 2017
Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world -asia-40961603
 Shazia Hasan, Dawn, March 24, 2015, Quaid’s Inaugural speech to be included in the School Curriculum, Available at https://www.dawn.com/news/1171436
 Adil Rasheed, ‘Countering the Radical Narrative, KW Publishers Pvt Ltd,2020
 Stephen Tankel, ‘Lashkar-e-Taiba: Past Operations and Future Prospects’, New America Foundation, April 27, 2011
 JuD the political wing of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a group designated as a terrorist organisation and responsible for the 1998 Wandhama Massacre, the 2005 Delhi bombings, the 2006 Varanasi bombings and the 2008 Mumbai attacks, among many other atrocities.
 JeM is responsible for the 2001 Indian parliament attack in New Delhi, the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl and a 2019 suicide bomb attack that killed 40 Indian soldiers in Kashmir.
 Paul Antonopoulos, Pakistan continues to turn a blind eye to terrorism financing despite FATF’s February deadline, Greek City Times, Available at https://greekcitytimes.com/2021/01/22/pakistan-fatf-february/
 Twitter @MichaelKugelman,23/01/21